DAILY MASS, GOSPEL AND COMMENTARY: “POUR NEW WINE INTO FRESH WINESKINS”
Gospel of Saturday, 13th week in Ordinary Time
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission)
- 14-17: This passage is interesting, not so much because it tells us about the sort of fasting practised by the Jews of the time — particularly the Pharisees and John the Baptist’s disciples — but because of the reason Jesus gives for not requiring his disciples to fast in that way.
- His reply is both instructive and prophetic.
- Christianity is not a mere mending or adjusting of the old suit of Judaism. The redemption wrought by Jesus involves a total regeneration. Its spirit is too new and too vital to be suited to old forms of penance, which will no longer apply.
- We know that in our Lord’s time Jewish theology schools were in the grip of a highly complicated casuistry to do with fasting, purifications etc, which smothered the simplicity of genuine piety. Jesus’ words point to that simplicity of heart with which his disciples might practise prayer, fasting and almsgiving (cf. Mt 6:1-18 and notes to same).
- From apostolic times onwards it is for the Church, using the authority given it by our Lord, to set out the different forms fasting should take in different periods and situations.
- 15 “The wedding guests”: literally, “the sons of the house where the wedding is being celebrated” – an expression meaning the bridegroom’s closest friends. This is an example of how St Matthew uses typical Semitic turns of phrase, presenting Jesus’ manner of speech.
- This “house” to which Jesus refers has a deeper meaning; set beside the parable of the guests at the wedding (Mt 22:1 ff), it symbolizes the Church as the house of God and the Body of Christ: “Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope” (Heb 3:5-6).
- The second part of the verse refers to the violent death Jesus would meet.
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC: When changes happen in your life, are you able to adapt and flourish in them?
When we encounter change in our lives, there may be hesitation, resistance, and fear. Losing a job, a death of a loved one, a sickness that makes us realize how fleeting life can be are changes that make us fearful to take a step forward.
- Fifteen years ago, the only son of a person we shall call Mr. Doe met an accident and died. Mr. Doe was so devastated that he left community, stopped going to church and became a recluse until he died. He was not able to recover from his grief. He failed to adapt to the changes in his life and to give God a chance to heal him.
On the other hand, there is also change that adds a new and positive dimension in our lives. A new job that promises advancement and a better life for the family is one. A new home in a distant place that makes us leave, perhaps, the sad memories of the past so that we can have a fresh start is another. Or, it may be a new love relationship that makes us hopeful of the permanency of commitment.
In the last few weeks, we saw Jesus changing the landscape of His time with miracles and with teachings that uphold the Laws of the Old Testament but done differently that has threatened the traditional way of thinking of His time. The pharisees and scribes were unable to comprehend and unable to adapt to change.
Our personal transformation towards holiness also requires us to change our perspective of people and situations.
- There was once a priest so holy that he never thought ill of anyone. One day, he sat down at a restaurant for a cup of coffee; which was all he could take, it being a day of fast and abstinence. When to his surprise, he saw a young member of his congregation devouring a massive steak at the next table.
- “I trust I haven’t shocked you, Father,” said the young fellow with a smile. “Ah! I take it that you forgot that today is a day of fast and abstinence,” said the priest. “No, I remember it very clearly.” “Then you must be sick, and the doctor must have forbidden you to fast.” “Not at all, I am in the best of my health.”
- At that, the priest raised his eyes heavenwards and said to God, “What an example this younger generation is to us. Isn’t it great that they admit their sins than lie?
The test of our holiness is if we have a greater appreciation that the transformation of people into God’s image and likeness vary in speed and magnitude.
And, therefore, a holy person puts more weight on the good he sees in people rather than on the bad to enable him to love them more. The key is to pray to God for the grace to understand, have compassion and love those around us, especially those who are difficult to love.
Resisting to accept change in people and circumstances will eventually make us unhappy and unfulfilled. We may even sin in the process. For example, in the realm of family, we think that our children are still ours to hold and keep even if they are already married. Meddling in their marital affairs causes a lot of tension and may result in bigger problems starting with friction among in-laws which might inevitably end up in a broken marriage and a dysfunctional family.
In today’s gospel, old wineskins will burst as new wine that is still fermenting and expanding are placed in it. New wineskins that have the capability to expand with the new wine must be used.
A new wineskin of adaptability in us will enable us to not just ride out the changes in our lives but to flourish and find joy in any and every circumstance that we face.
Holy Mass, July 4, 2020